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While Dayton has been winning its close games, Syracuse has struggled

By Tim Graham

Sometimes, a team needs to learn how to win the close ones.

The Dayton Flyers have done that this season. In games decided by a single-digit margin, the Flyers have won six of their past seven, including Thursday's heart-stopping 60-59 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes in First Niagara Center.

The Flyers likely need to keep it close if they want to score another upset. They'll play the Syracuse Orange downtown at 7:10 p.m. Saturday.

"You know, it's funny," Dayton forward Devin Oliver said this afternoon. "Last year, we lost about eight or nine games ... by, like, a total of 10 points or something crazy like that.

"So we went through it last year. We just happened to come out on the losing end of it."

Dayton was in six games decided by one or two points last season and lost all of them, once in overtime.

This season, Dayton went 2-2 in games decided by one point or two points, 1-1 in overtime (both games by three points) and 10-7 in games decided by single digits.

But the Flyers have been clutch since February. In the span of seven games -- all against Atlantic 10 opponents -- they won five by seven points or fewer. Their only single-digit loss in over two months was to the St. Joe's Hawks in the conference championship game.

Dayton guard Vee Sanford banked in a runner from 5 feet away with 3.8 seconds left to beat Ohio State on Thursday.

"It was a very big shot personally, but I'm kind of just getting that out of the way," Sanford said. "I want to focus on tomorrow. That's the main thing.

"It was a good win, but now it's Syracuse we've got to focus on."

Syracuse went 12-4 this season in games decided by a single-digit margin, but it lost four of its past five, a turbulent stretch that dates back to Feb. 19.

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